States News Service
January 7, 2010 Thursday
SPEECH BY GUIDO WESTERWELLE, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT
AMBASSADORS’ CONFERENCE OF TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY, ANKARA
The following information was released by the Federal Foreign Office
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m aware that the invitation extended to me by your Foreign Minister,
my colleague Ahmet DavutoÃ?Å¸lu, is a great privilege and honour.
Turkish diplomats enjoy an outstanding reputation. I know from reports
by our Embassies that y ou are held in high regard by German
Ambassadors thanks to your professionalism and your vast knowledge.
I consider the invitation to be your guest here in Ankara today a
special mark of the friendship between our two countries. I’m indebted
to you for that. Further intensifying our long-standing relations is
important to me personally. I would like to use the strategic dialogue
we agreed on last year to take relations between our Foreign
Ministries to a new level.
And I want to add, Ahmet, that it’s a particular pleasure to be able
to work with a colleague who is so experienced, cosmopolitan and
In political, economic and cultural terms, people in Germany and
Turkey have moved closer together during the last few years than
perhaps ever before.
We Germans see Turkey in a new light. We have gained a better
understanding of its history, its social and economic dynamism, as
well as of Turkey’s strategic role in the Middle East and its
importance to Europe.
Our extremely intensive economic relations have done much to shape
this new understanding. Our economies are closely interlinked. Germany
is Turkey’s most important economic partner. More than 3900 German
companies have established a base in Turkey. That is more than from
any other country. It therefore goes without saying that I’m
accompanied by a business delegation on this trip.
A whole host of exchanges and joint projects have fostered the
cultural rediscovery of Turkey in Germany. One project is particularly
important to me personally, because it is targeted first and foremost
at young people: the German-Turkish University which we want to
develop together in Istanbul under the Ernst Reuter Initiative. This
university is to train skilled professionals in close cooperation with
German and Turkish companies, thus strengthening our academic
relations. The importance of this project to the German Government is
illustrated by the fact that we specifically mentioned the
German-Turkish University in the coalition agreement.
It’s important to us that the university can begin offering courses as
quickly as possible.
It’s people who really make our bilateral relations unique. Around 2.7
million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, of whom more than
700,000 have German nationality. Many of them have been in Germany for
almost half a century.
Turks in Germany and Germans of Turkish origin play a key role in our
relations, a role which has an impact in both countries. In Germany,
they play an important part as businesspeople or employees, as lawyers
or teachers, or in many other professions, in shaping our country, in
boosting its prosperity and cultural wealth. Many of you who have been
posted to Germany know this from first-hand experience.
With personal ambition, diligence and education, many of those whose
grandparents or parents got on the guest worker trains at Istanbul’s
Sirkeci station have achieved remarkable social advancement. Some of
my classmates in Bonn are among them. I have great respect for their
Education and mastery of the national language are the keys to
integration in every country, in every society. The German Government
has made the integration of people from migrant backgrounds one of its
priorities. We know that further major efforts are required in
Germany, also on the part of the majority society, if we are to better
foster the potential and career opportunities of young people from
Turkey. We are therefore trying harder to rectify the shortcomings of
our integration policy in the past. However, the endeavours and will
of each individual continues to be crucial to the success of this
This morning I visited the mausoleum of the founder of the Turkish
Republic – not for the first time, but for the first time as Foreign
Mustafa Kemal Atat¼rk’s vision of a Turkey which looks to Europe,
which is modern, secular and self-confident, in which men and women
have equal rights, changed both state and society fundamentally. This
vision has a profound impact on Turkey even today. Turkey’s closer
ties with Europe are also the engine and goal of the impressive
transformation process which Turkey has been undergoing since the
start of the last decade.
Some have asked whether the new German Government wants to close the
door to Turkey’s membership. Let me state categorically that what has
been agreed between the EU and Turkey is still valid. This German
Government will honour these undertakings. You have my word on that.
For me as a lawyer there can be no doubt about the validity of the
"pacta sunt servanda" principle. Turkey has a right to fair
negotiations and a reliable negotiating partner.
Our coalition agreement states that the outcome of the negotiations is
not a foregone conclusion. Strict compliance with the Copenhagen
Criteria remains a prerequisite for accession.
And it goes on to say, "Germany has a particular interest in a
deepening of mutual relations with Turkey and in binding the country
to the European Union." The negotiations between Turkey and the EU
began in 2005 with the aim of accession. This is an open-ended
process. It does not imply any automaticity. And the outcome cannot be
guaranteed at the outset.
I’m pleased it was possible to open the environment chapter in the
accession process just a few weeks ago at the European Council. At the
meeting of EU Foreign Ministers held in Brussels in December, I urged
that the accession negotiations be continued.
However, I realize from my own experience of negotiations in Brussels
that we desperately need fresh momentum in the accession negotiations.
The key to this lies – as we all know – in the question of Cyprus: the
ratification and implementation of the Ankara Protocol by the Turkish
Government, the negotiations on Cyprus under the aegis of the United
Nations, as well as the EU Direct Trade Regulation.
Although it’s important in foreign policy to analyse past mistakes and
political misjudgements, I’m firmly convinced that those of us
actively involved in foreign policy must act today in such a way that
we don’t regret any missed opportunities tomorrow.
The willingness of the Turkish Government to explore new avenues in
resolving old conflicts deserves the highest recognition. We see that
willingness in Turkey’s domestic policy and we see it in Turkey’s
active and successful neighbourhood policy. Because I’m keen to see
Turkey’s accession process successfully continued, I greatly hope
Turkey can take new routes on this issue, too. I’m aware that not only
determination but also political courage is required here. I also
expect the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to play its role in
reaching a consensus solution.
I would like to express my deep respect and appreciation to Turkey’s
Government, Parliament and active society members for what they have
achieved to date in advancing the process of EU related reforms. I
want to encourage you to continue along that path.
This as yet incomplete process of reforms aimed at taking Turkey along
the road to Europe has meant, and indeed still means, overcoming
considerable opposition, allaying fears and winning political
majorities. But we all know that freedom of opinion, the press and
religion are vital pillars in our European community of shared values.
I am following with great interest the discussions on the policy of
"democratic opening" which is currently being debated in Parliament.
As a Member of the German Bundestag I believe it is very important
that, in a democratic state, Parliament is the central forum for
political decision making, and that Parliament should represent all
major societal groups. It’s crystal clear that violence and extremism
are completely unacceptable as instruments of politics! We all know
that to tolerate such intolerance would be stupid rather than liberal.
"Yurtta BarÃ?Ã…Å¸ D¼nyada BarÃ?Ã…Å¸"
– "Peace at home, peace in the world" – This Atat¼rk quotation is the
Turkish Foreign Ministry’s motto.
I share this view that one of foreign policy’s main tasks is to work
towards world peace. The Turkish Government, and Foreign Minister
DavutoÃ?Å¸lu personally, have undertaken numerous initiatives and have
thus played an impressive role in achieving stability and peace in and
between other countries. Turkey has used its good relations with those
countries in order to act as a constructive mediator in their
bilateral conflicts. For its neighbouring regions Turkey is not only
an anchor but also an exporter of stability.
I need only remind you of the Ankara Process initiated by the Turkish
Government aimed at improving relations between Afghanistan and
Pakistan, the conferences involving Iraq’s neighbouring countries, and
Turkey’s contribution to the Doha Agreement on political
reconciliation in Lebanon. Let me also recall Turkish efforts to
improve Israel Pakistan relations, the "Caucasus Stability and
Cooperation Platform", and the "proximity talks" between Syria and
In its immediate neighbourhood Turkey has pursued a very consistent
policy of bilateral understanding and economic cooperation. For
example, its relations with Iraq and Syria have in recent months been
put on a new footing, in a spirit of partnership, through a series of
Last year Turkey and Armenia opened a completely new chapter in their
relations. I want to express my respect and recognition to all those
who have helped achieve this rapprochement, which I’m sure was no easy
I appeal to both Armenia and Turkey to ratify and implement the
normalization protocols as soon as possible. I say this because,
twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Europe’s
political division, we Germans have seen that above all the people of
our countries benefit from the opening of political borders and the
lifting of barriers in our political thinking. Good neighbourly
relations between Turkey and Armenia also represent an important
contribution to greater security, stability and cooperation in the
In foreign policy terms Germany and Turkey, NATO allies and partners
in international organizations, are facing major challenges. These
include the problem of how to deal with Iran and its nuclear
programme, which threatens the security not only of Turkey and the
region as a whole but also in particular that of Israel. In
Afghanistan we and many other partner countries are working to achieve
self sustaining security, stability and economic reconstruction. In
the Middle East our shared goal is lasting peace on the basis of a two
state solution and the security of Israel.
Turkey’s voice carries weight in all these issues. I’m therefore very
keen for Germany and Turkey to seek even greater mutual exchange and
to work even more closely together on foreign policy. This is why I’m
happy to be here with you today, and why I want to shape the strategic
dialogue between our Foreign Ministries to our mutual benefit.
Thank you again, Ahmet, for inviting me here today. I wish you all
every success for your work during the coming year, and thank you very
much for your attention.